Lessons Learnt in a clothing bank

I thought I would share some of the lessons I have been

learning throughout this unusual time. As you know I

manage a clothes bank in the community, so I have

been able to meet people and have not had to stay at

home as I am a keyworker.

So these are a few things I have learned about helping

people who are struggling.

The homeless guests usually are male and generally

like clean clothes which is mainly joggers, boxers and

socks. They often have poor footwear. They often need

a sleeping bag or tent.

Streetlink is a great organisation to report people

sleeping rough. There is a website and you need to give

someone’s location and name if possible and a physical

description. There is also a 24 hour [phone number.

Many people cannot afford prescription glasses so

putting a range of used glasses helps people.

We throw very little away. The saying ‘one man’s trash

is another person’s treasure is so true. Even broken toys

are taken ie a game called ‘Hungry Hippos’ was broken

but a child still took one of the Hippos. One person

makes teddies out of odd socks. And we make up the

jigsaws to check they are all complete. We even keep

the odd shoes as often a stray shoe is lying in a bag

somewhere.

I do not limit how many items people take.

This is an abundance principle. And

people can choose; this is offering a service with

dignity. We use old paper to wrap glasses, old bags to

put clothes in and things like shoe boxes to display cds.

Recycle all that we can. We also try to treat everyone

with respect.

Please let me know your thoughts. I would especially

like to hear from anyone working in the fashion

industry.

Working in a pandemic

Today I wanted to share my experiences of working through the pandemic and running a community project. To start with it has been an honour and a privilege to support our fellow humans. As a keyworker, I have been able to do this.

We started our community project in May 2019, offering groups to vulnerable people. However, as Covid struck, this wasn;t possible and we reinvented ourselves. This began as an experiment with a rusty clothes rail and has proven to be very worthwhile, with possibly over 2000 people helped, directley and indirectly.

One lovely man comes and takes things for his neighbours and friends; curtains to put over doors, towels and even plates. Another person has said how invaluable our service has been. A homeless man came yesterday and walked out looiking really smart in a lovely new coat. We have been able to help people look and feel fgood about themselves, redistributiung unwanted goods and saving waste too.

Recycling is very close to my heart and we try to throw away as little as possible. Stained clothing may be washed and I have only ever thrown away one item which seemed to have blood on it which I felt warranted a bin. Even broken toys find new homes-one child happily took a push along toy missing a wheel. We are so often about ythe new and perfect and perhaps we just need to be a little more open to reusing slighly damaged things and upcycling. It is a new way of life and a new way of thinking. We even have people take second hand glasses which was a huge surprise to me!

People don’t just come for clothes; they like a chat and feeling part of a community. We meet outside and people can choose how much or little they want to take. This gives dignity. It is essentially a free charity shop model. People are struggling on Universal Credit and it means they can givce their families nice clothes and shoes and toys and bedding.

I feel that clothing banks are very much needed at this time. People in the UK are really battling poverty, but they don’t wear a badge to announce it (and why should they?)

Let me have your thoughts regarding this and please feel free to disagree. I am interested in people’s views from other nations in regard to this.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all a wonderful weekend X

Mama to Mama

These beautiful clothes are an example of the amazing Mama to Mama project. This is a wonderful project, where pre-loved baby items are presented in a gorgeous box with a lovely note and given to new mamas. from mama to mama.

The instigator of this idea is Jayne Furniss. The pre-loved items are sourced from a mamma’s group and the Community Outreach Project Margate. Boxes are given to vulnerable new mamma’s.

This is an example of preventing beautiful things going to landfill as well as helping to support new mothers. It is a synthesis of old and new, the cycle of life in motion.

Let’s get creative in this pandemic!

January Reflection

You may have noticed a change with the blog-well there has been one. I completed my adventure into hope so the recipes will be there, but this year I will be taking a different stance. Following the suggestion of Writing Presence who writes an excellent blog, I am going to write twelve reflections, for the twelve months of the year.

Today’s is about how my local community is rippling out kindness to one another. I live in Thanet, one of the most deprived communities in the South East, with high levels of unemployment, many suffering from physical disability or mental health issues. Things here are on paper, pretty grim.

Add to that and what do you get? In actual fact, the opposite from what you would imagine. People helping one another. I am part of an online Facebook community called The Clothes/Shoes Helpline and this is where people need items and other people give. So someone might need nappies and another person has spare, so they give them. It is a give and take process. An exchange of kindness.

I run a clothing bank which is also a befriending service. Maslow’s hierachy of needs is very interesting here. Maslow states that the most fundamental human need is food, water, warmth and rest.

See the source image

Sadly many people do not have enough food. Their physiological needs are unmet. With the pandemic, if basic needs are not met, then people are much more likely to catch Covid. Perhaps meeting these basic needs will help in the fight against it.

In order to self-actualise, many steps need to be climbed. And so food banks are vital, as are clothes banks. Many people on universal credit cannot afford to heat their homes, so basic necessities such as bedding, shoes and warm clothes are beyond theie meagre means. If something breaks down, it is likely the choice will be made to do without.

Thus many families in today’s Britain have no decent bedding, shoes with holes in and children without a warm coat. In my view, every town now needs a food bank and a clothes bank too.

redistribution of unwanted good is becoming a necessity. Let’s recycle unwanted items to charities, rather than chuck them. Or put things outside to be taken away. A small clothes rail with free clothes on it may really help someone. You could put a note saying please only touch what you take.

Just a few thoughts. So much is written about saving our planet. Perhaps we could be creative with recycling and far less would go to landfill.

References

maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Bing images (accessed 20/01/01).

Let’s change the environment by wearing rubbish

I have become fascinated by thinking about rubbish, because there is so much waste and yet also so much concern about our planet being consumed by landfills and what goes in them. So what can we do? I think we can commit ourselves to doing things differently, like this wonderful article shows us:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c77jz3mdmezt/recycling

If we each play our part, the planet will be helped to continue to thrive and flourish. This isn’t just up to governments, individuals can do this too. I thought you might be interested to see the project I manage.

https://www.allchurches.co.uk/news/putting-the-unity-in-community/

These are just two examples of what can be done. Let’s not just chuck things away without really thinking whether they could be recycled. Pause; charity shops are now collecting again and organisations such as The Salvation Army help numerous people with free items. Maybe someone in your circle may not have as much as you and could be blessed by that item of clothing that has hung in your wardrobe unworn for several months.

Today’s recipe of hope is a challenge; find one item that you do not need and do something useful with it. Be creative and please let us know what you decide to do.

May we all help save our planet together X

Acknowledgements

BBC news online (accessed 19/12/2020)

AllchurchesTrust